Energy & Environment

Biden to restart environmental review of bird habitat Trump opened for mining

The Biden administration has indicated that it will begin reviewing the use of land where the sage grouse bird resides, including a Trump administration decision to open that land up to mining. 

The administration said in a statement posted to its website that it would comply with a February court decision that vacated its predecessor’s move and sent the issue back to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).

“In the coming months, the Bureau of Land Management will begin to review updates to the 2015 land management plans that were designed to support a healthy sagebrush ecosystem and populations of the greater sage-grouse that rely on it,” the statement said. 

“The BLM has also confirmed that it will comply with a court order to begin re-consideration of whether a withdrawal from mineral location and entry, which could potentially limit hardrock mining in Sagebrush Focal Areas, is necessary for the conservation of the greater sage-grouse,” it said. 

The February ruling also said that the agency should consider whether preventing mining on the lands is necessary to conserve the sage grouse. 

A new filing this week said that the administration will comply with the February court order and is “discussing possible next steps.” 

It added that the “likely next step” will be circulating a draft environmental review document, but it said that it’s uncertain whether it will do so. 

Neither the filing nor the statement said what the ultimate outcome would be, but opponents of the Trump administration’s move said they were optimistic that the Biden administration would undo it. 

“I think that … they’ll withdraw the Trump plans entirely, they will start requiring compensatory mitigation again,” said Greta Anderson, deputy director of the Western Watersheds Project, adding that she believes the Obama administration’s plans for the land also weren’t strong enough.

Tags birds Mining sage grouse

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